Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
The Bookworm is a library, book store, and café that attracts customers at all hours of the day. The tables and comfortable couches give refuge from the rough world outside and the book-lined walls frame a relaxed and civilized atmosphere. We hear mostly English conversations in the space, but various European languages and Chinese are also frequently heard. The conversation topics are as likely to be business, literature or art discussions as travellers’ tales and gossip. The location just off of Renmin South Road near the Nijiaqiao subway stop makes it one of the easiest places to find quickly; it’s a great place for a rendezvous.
The space is divided with a restaurant and bar in one room with more tables, and a lending library and bookstore in the other room. With around 16,000 titles on the shelves, the Bookworm is the largest English library in Chengdu and is a favourite stop for locals and for travellers passing through. There are a few shelves of kids’ books and a children’s section on the menu, so the place is very family friendly during daylight hours. The library side of the room can also be booked for private events and is the venue for many talks and performances. The notice board on the café side has events, job listings, and messages and there is a selection of local English journals.
The cafe is recognized as a gathering place for the international community and regularly hosts a photography club, book group, whisky club, craft group, writer’s workshop, and other events. It has become a de facto venue for discussion groups, benefits, or talks on various subjects. There are performers almost every evening and we’ve seen everything from comedians to experimental theatre and dance, travel discussions, and ethnic singing. Each spring, The Bookworm hosts a Literary Festival, where several authors are brought in to discuss their books, experiences, or the business or creative side of writing life. The walls in the library are covered with photos of authors that have participated in the festival.
The nosh at the Bookworm has been up and down over the years but it has been improving in recent months. The thick cut chips, available by the basket or as a side to many dishes, are deservedly famous in town. The Bookworm makes a solid salad and use good bread. They also serve up a solid Western breakfast and we like that that we can come in and get decent coffee with it at nine. The drinks menu is in newspaper format with tea and coffee RMB20-40, cocktails RMB30-50 and we note with approval that most of the wine on their list is available by the glass. The cafe is planning to do seasonal menus, changing items every few months. We look forward to a new literary themed menu coming out soon.
The Bookworm has been around long enough to have helped shape and been shaped by the international community in Chengdu and has developed its own character over the years. We’ve seen so many places come and go during the seven years’ time in Chengdu and so many changes in the city that we appreciate the cafe’s staying power.